Centurion tank entering hold of landing craft for sea journey to destination in southern Lebanon.
The War in Lebanon can be divided into two phases. The first was a conventional war, which lasted from June 6 to August 23 1982, when the terrorists were expelled from Beirut. The second phase, which lasted for the next three years, was a counter-insurgency campaign. The first phase was limited by both Israel and Syria because they were determined to isolate the fighting, not allowing it to turn into an all-out war. During this phase, Israeli forces were numerically superior, allowing Israel to maintain both the initiative and an element of surprise. Syria fielded six divisions and 500 planes, while Israel had eleven tank divisions and eleven infantry brigades, in addition to 600 planes.
At the beginning of the war, the IDF advanced along the shore, crossed the Awall River, went into Beirut, and then continued north through the Shouf Mountains along the flank of the main Syrian forces in the Beka’a Valley, threatening their rear as well as comminications between Beirut and Damascus.
The second phase was directed against the terrorists. It was not a conventional war in any way. Despite the large number of forces involved and the high casualty rate, there are few lessons to be learned for the future battlefield.